I’ve heard countless stories from frustrated business owners about how they have implemented procedures to run their business, only to see these systems ignored—if not completely discarded—by their employees. An Operations Manual
, a once important Mission Statement
, or even the original Vision
for the business gets lost in the piles of paper and good intentions. Still, you long to see your business grow. So, how do you make good systems STICK?
When I first set out on the mission to stop the chaos in our company by installing written systems, I had trouble sustaining them. It would have been easy to just throw in the towel. However, instead of giving up and letting my company and its mounting chaos return to business as usual, I took a fresh look at my original vision.
Our “business as usual” meant: everyone did things the WAY they wanted to, WHEN they wanted to, and sometimes IF they wanted to. Instituting standard operating procedures that we could all get on board with was crucial, if the business was going to survive and thrive! My research convinced me of a way to implement written processes people would use consistently—100 percent of the time. Systems that would STICK! And, once implemented, I wouldn’t have to be there to ensure processes were being used correctly. Now that’s “Sustainable Order!” How do you ensure your people are using your well-planned systems?
You do it by implementing another system! Yes, another system; the missing ingredient that will make all other systems cohesive—a “sticky system” that we developed, tested and have come to rely on. It still works, after 15 years!So, what is a Sticky System?
It begins with a network of interacting written procedures
, etc., to create an Operations Manual
—the processes that run your company. This Operations Manual is made accessible to every member of your organization, to give clear understanding to all, and empowering them to do their jobs without constant supervision.
Now to keep your systems from coming unglued, here’s the sticky part...
Systems stop running or come unglued because there is a gap in the system. The GAP? Having no follow-up system to ensure people stay the course.
Think of a system like a circuit board an engineer designs and then tests until it works perfectly. There should be no breaks or gaps in the circuit, unless it is a planned break. The more you close the gaps in a system and refine it, the more continually it will work—with less and less effort.
Owners and managers are often seen as fire fighters in a business. The simple truth is, there are gaps in their system wheel—the root cause of the fires.
When you get tired of fighting fires, and tired of the chaos, here’s a little more glue for building those sticky systems
Begin creating a checklist system for all the processes in your business that need to be performed in a consistent way (i.e., setting up a new customer). How your company operates—all the business of your business—will remain in your head if you, as an owner or manager, never take the time to download the information out of your head and into written documents (i.e., checklists, procedures, policies and other documents). These documents should then be organized into an Operations Manual.Daily-Routine Checklists for Personnel
The Daily-Routine Checklist
is like the job description, developed into a detailed checklist of duties in the order a person performs them, from the time they arrive at work until they leave
. Place individual checklist for easy use at each person’s desk or workstation. Daily-Routine Checklists are your eyes to see every task and duty performed in your organization, from taking mail to the post office, to mopping the floors. These checklists, followed correctly—one step at a time—stop errors from being repeated and virtually eliminate procrastination and chaos.Quality and Service Control ChecklistsQuality and Service Control Checklists
are crucial to every company. A mere verbal commitment to quality and service is about as predictable as bubbles in the air. Without a checklist system, we cannot guarantee or prove quality or service, because we human beings are fallible, unable to remember to complete every process consistently. Our minds may be thinking about numerous things or something major, and overlooking something small. This can cause big and costly errors!
Imagine your next business trip, and how your airline pilot might be focusing on the weather or passengers, and misses a small light alerting him his landing gear is up or down. Thankfully, airline pilots use detailed checklists
that keep you and me safe from such mishaps!
Did I mention—Great systems work!